Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More photos from NBC

We have a new Monitoring and Evaluation officer, so I tagged along on her tour of the camp today. I never had an 'offical' tour, so while I've been writing about works in certain plots, I didn't know exactly which ones were which. It was great to get out and walk around.

We first saw some of the highly regarded 'antiquities' (the big slabs on the bottom left). These aren't the antiquities that have caused the decision to halt the reconstruction of the camp, but you can see just how well they're regarded by the rubbish around them.

Below is some of the labelling for antiquities that may be part of the decision to stop the reconstruction...

Just one of the many buildings yet to be demolished...

We had to stop for a manoushe break - this has become my favourite snack, with thyme and cheese

And the little boy whose father owns the manoushe shop had to show us his chickens...

We dropped in to one of the schools, just as the change over between shifts was happening (some children go to school in the morning, others in the afternoons), and having three white people walking in resulted in a lot of excitement.


We wandered on and on, and into one of the most heavily damaged areas, where we came across a bulldozer who'd managed to get himself stuck against the side of a building, and take half his roof off...yep, the look on the operator's face said it all.

And on the way out, we passed this piece of graffiti:

"No more to lose cause game over"

I never got to see the total destruction of the 'old camp' as the clearing was well underway when I got here (check out this photo though). But it's still pretty incredible to walk around and see what's left - broken fans still hanging by a thread to ceilings, soft drink bottles still in crates in what used to be shops that are now behind razor wire. I've seen people live in worse conditions than this, but not in plain sight of what used to be their homes. It's sobering.

It's almost upon us!










Happy Birthday Yassmin!


LIKE A BOSS!!

This is just too cute

Just look at his little face at the end...awwwwww

Another letter

Dear Shwarma Man,

You're really awesome. It was really nice of you today to let Yassmin order her delicious shwarma before all the other men in your shop, even if they had been there longer. And it was really nice of you to defend her when they kicked up a stink, by saying that it was because she was a woman. It's nice to see gallantry alive and well.

You must have noticed that tall, chubby dude checking us out. I watched him eye off Yassmin from head to toe, very thoroughly, and then he turned his attention to my feet and started working his way up. Did you notice the look on my face when his eyes finally got to it? I was all like, "what the hell at you looking at punk?" He certainly noticed and had the decency to look suitably reprimanded. You must have seen it, I get that about you, you're very observant.

So anyway, thanks Shwarma Man, for being such a gentleman when we're all surrounded by a sea of eels.

Love, Carly

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's 6:54pm

and this is the view from my balcony...

Monday, September 28, 2009

West Bank Story

In Beirut over the weekend, I was introduced to the wonderful West Bank Story, a short film that I've just discovered won an Oscar in 2007. It's an all singing, all dancing musical take-off of West Side Story (obviously), set on the border of Israel and the West Bank. The Jets and the Sharks have been replaced by fast food outlets the Hommus Hut, and Kosher King. I'm not sure where you can find the whole thing, but check out the trailer for a taste...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A letter

Dear Shwarma Man,

I miss the old days, when it was just you and me. When your counter ran vertically up the store, and all you had was chicken or beef and the green stuff mixed in with onions, and garlic sauce, and the nasty pickles and tomato. And I just had to point at the stuff I wanted. I miss those days. Now you're so busy all the time, and your counter is horizontal to the street and you're full of leering men. And you have lettuce and cabbage and other white stuff that isn't garlic sauce. What happened to you man? You used to be so cool. No, I take that back Shwarma Man, you're still the best value in town, and so conveniently located.

You'll always be my go-to guy for nommy goodness.
Love, Carly.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Labels

You may have noticed now that underneath each post are are series of tags. There's also a list on the left with all the tags, so if you're interested in a particular subject you can click there and find all the posts. Obviously, I've been a bit bored the last couple of days to retrofit labels to all my posts, and it's not perfect, as I was making labels up as I worked my way backwards. But anyway, it's done.

TGIF!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

One more thing:

I Jazzercised last night and it was totally awesome! Think I'll wait till it's a little bit later next time so the people standing on their balconies across the street can't see as much of me jumping around the lounge room in my leopard print g-string leotard*.

*I really feel like I need to clarify that that was a joke. I do not own a single leotard, but am considering tracking one down for fancy dress purposes...

No hints please, we're Australian

Oh AlertNet Weekly Quiz - you're usually so challenging, particularly when I haven't really read anything on your site for over a week. But today, I've got to say, you've kind of dropped the ball a little bit:

The AlertNet Challenge
6 of 6

QUESTION 6
What aspect of climate change has displaced over half a million people in West Africa since June this year?
Drought
Heavy rainfall
Earthquakes


Maybe, just maybe, you gave the answer away with the picture. Let's see shall we?




QUESTION 6 - CORRECT!
What aspect of climate change has displaced over half a million people in West Africa since June this year?
Heavy rainfall

Heavy flooding has displaced over half a million people and killed over 100 in West Africa since the start of the rainy season in June, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said. A vast multi-agency effort is underway in the region to provide relief including shelter, food, water and proper hygiene conditions for the homeless and most vulnerable.

See: FACTBOX -West Africa Seasonal Floods 2009

I feel cheated now. I managed to guess the other five questions correctly without any overly obvious pictorial clues...I just can't say that I truly got 6 out of 6 this week. *sigh*

A completely pointless post

For some reason, the following two quotes from The Simpsons sprang to mind...I think it's because they're my two favourites:

"I ated the purple berries...they taste like...burning!" Ralph


"Woah, this is just like Speed 2, but on a bus instead of a boat!" Milhouse

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Paul + Bill = Tru Luv 4 Eva

The ABC news site has a fantastic article today in which Paul Keating shows off some sour grapes, stating that like Kevin Rudd he too was once praised by Bill Clinton. The article is appropriately titled, "Clinton loved me too: Keating".

At climate change talks in New York today, Mr Clinton described Mr Rudd as one of the most "well informed, well read, intelligent leaders in the world today"...

Mr Keating told The World Today Mr Clinton can pick a top-notch leader when he sees one, adding Mr Clinton had also praised him for being a smart leader."He's got an eye for quality, that Bill," Mr Keating said."He used to think that about me at the time."

Come on now Paul, that's a bit of very sad attention grabbing stuff there...you gave us the recession we had to have, and more importantly, you had a fantastically hilarious musical written about you, so cheer up and let K-Rudd have his special moment with Bill!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

You'll remember how I mentioned young boys here play with very realistic toy guns. Well for Eid, the present du jour seems to have been new guns (sawn-off shotguns seem to be the gun to envy). So now there's a posse of around 25 pre-pubescent boys running around the street below in pack formations, chasing each other with guns. And also terrorising anyone who happens to walk down the street by running after them, bang bang bang. They caught the look in my eye and decided not to follow me...smart boys. But it's seriously like the Lord of the Flies...minus the rock throwing and animal killing. I'm surprised they haven't painted their faces.

Oh, and how bout this. I just peered over the balcony to have another look at the skirmish and there's a tiny little girl, barely sitting up in a stroller, caressing and pointing a gun at her mother. Awwwwwww! *sarcasm*

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ask Jenny

As we were killing some time yesterday evening over a beer, Ahmed started flipping through TimeOut Beirut magazine. He came across the "Ask Jenny" column - the sex advice column - and started reading to us. I wish I could transcribe this exactly, but will try to do it from memory:

"Dear Jenny,
I'm a 27 year old female who recently broke up with her boyfriend. We'd been together for 5 months, but had been friends for 2 years before and eventually we started dating. A few weeks ago, we were supposed to have lunch with my brother but he didn't show up. No call, no text. He avoided my calls for a few days. Finally he answered and he told me that the death of Michael Jackson had really affected him and that he needed some time..."

Jenny's response started with the line "my bullshit detector is going absolutely apeshit!" We were giggling so hard at this point, and the old man sitting alone at the table behind us kept looking over at us in confusion.

So guys and girls, if you're looking for a way to get out of that relationship, and feel like the truth is too hard, just tell the other person that the death of MJ, or Patrick Swazye, or whoever springs to mind has really changed the way you see the world and that as a result, you can't be together anymore!

You've got to give the guy credit for originality!!

As south as Saida

Yassmin, Ahmed (her brother) and I hopped on a bus yesterday, firstly to Beirut and then down to Saida. We'd actually hoped to go all the way south to the border with Palestine, but our permits didn't come through in time. So we settled on Saida and actually had a lovely couple of hours exploring.

The first stop was for some refuelling, in the form of felafel, and I noticed this:

all the vegetables were dyed pink.

I'm guessing it was from one particular vegetable, which I don't like. It kind of has the consistency of a turnip, but its being bright pink is its only redeeming feature.

Anyways, we took our lunch to the Chateau de la Mer (the Sea Castle), which funnily enough, was an old castle (13th century) on the sea.



We then strolled up to the old souk, where we found the soap museum. It was a fantastically renovated old house that now explores the history of soap.


I'll admit, we didn't really read much further than saponification, but had a bit of fun anyway.

After more wandering through the souk we jumped back on the bus to Beirut, as there was supposed to be a Palestinian hip hop show on. But something put a stop to that:

There was a hell of a lot of thunder and lightning and we took this snap just in time

the heavens opened and down it came. We ended up going to a dive bar with the friend of Yassmin's who kindly put us up for the night, and we had a great night chatting away to various people. I really do need to spend more time in Beirut and make more friends that I don't work with!!

Eid Mubarak!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dude, Sweet!

My evening last night was spent at Hallab, the best sweet shop in Tripoli...

Just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, except sadly, there was a distinct lack of oompa loompas...


We tried a couple of dishes, one that's a Palestinian specialty, which was made of cheese, and this one:

For the life of me, I couldn't work out what the brown goop was, delicious yes, but unidentifiable.

It's now the first day of a four day weekend to celebrate Eid, and today we're heading south to check out Tyre, where there are white sandy beaches (the key word being sandy, as that's a rarity in these parts!) and maybe Saidar as well. Then tonight it will be a night out in Beirut, and who knows what tomorrow will bring! There's talk of some apple picking and wine tasting in the Beq'aa valley at some point as well...think it's going to be a pretty great weekend!!

More terrifying news from Somalia

Alertnet is reporting that the Somali al Shabaab insurgents have stolen UN vehicles and are priming them as suicide bombs.

Somali govt says rebels have more car bombs ready

By Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Somalia's al Shabaab insurgents have six more stolen United Nations vehicles primed as suicide bombs, the government said on Friday.

President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's administration says it will not be bowed by twin suicide car bombs that hit the African Union's (AU) main base in Mogadishu on Thursday, killing 17 AU peacekeepers including the AMISOM force's deputy commander.

But the audacious attack by two U.N.-marked cars on the heart of the peacekeeping mission raises serious questions about the credibility of the deeply divided government, which controls little more than a few districts of the capital. (Click the link above for the full article.)


This is absolutely terrifying. To take a UN vehicle, something that symbolises so much, and use it to target who knows what is an absolute disgrace. Somalia is hands down at the top of my "no go list," and I admire beyond words the aid workers who risk everything to try to help the Somali people. There's a woman I know here who spent three years in Somalia, I'll have to ask her opinion on this.

How can a bombing possibly be averted, when UN vehicles are protected against any sort of searches (and rightly so)? By publicising the number plates of the stolen vehicles, so if any of them approach anything people will be able to check it against the list they're carrying around with them and know to get the hell out of there? Obviously not.

The state minister for defence, Sheikh Yusuf Mohamed Siad, seems to have a good plan: "People will see what we'll do to them. They are not Muslims ... We know each other. Let's wait and see what happens next."

Yeah, wait and see, that sounds like a great idea...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In love

I am so completely in love with David Tennant. No, really, totally smitten. And I also love Top Gear. So when I found this video of my David on the show, well I just about melted.



Well done David. If you're ever in the neighbourhood, do drop by for a cup of tea! (For David I will pretend to like tea, that's how much I love him!)

Identity Crisis

The good news is, I got my Special Residence Permit today, which will let me live in this wonderful country until September next year. So as I was looking over this special laminated card, slightly bigger than my passport, I checked that my names were spelled correctly (success!), that my passport number was correct (success!) and that my nationality was correct...

Apparently I'm now Ukrainian...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thou doth not protest enough

There was a protest held today by residents of Nahr el-Bared to raise awareness about the court decision ordering the stoppage of the backfilling (essentially, the halting of reconstruction) for two months.

What was originally supposed to include a march, ended up being a gathering beside the road near the UN compound. In all honesty, it was a pretty pathetic protest. There are 27,000 odd residents of NBC. There would have been 400 people there if they were lucky. Yes, there were people with placards, there was a sound system hooked up with people making speeches. But there was no passion, no anger.


A few young guys approached me after I took a photo of this sign -

the only sign in English - and they asked me if I spoke English. I gave them a funny look and said that of course I spoke English. Only one of them could, and he told me how the English language lessons they received were terrible. I assured him that his English was quite good, and far superior to the few words of Arabic I've picked up so far. Yassmin joined us and translated what the other guys were saying. I asked why there were so few people here. They told us that the people in the camp are too disappointed with the situation, that they are somewhat resigned to nothing ever happening.

That's what gets to me. I mean, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Palestinian refugees have been here for 60 years, the fact that anyone has hope that there'll be a solution is inspiring. But to have been homeless as well as stateless for the past 2 years, and to have the courts hand down a decision to halt the process even further, well isn't that something to protest about? Isn't that something to be angry about?

Then again, when they've been living in a country where the national population doesn't appreciate their existence, you can understand why they might be unwilling to take a stand. Now of course there are exceptions to this, one of the driving forces behind the protest today was a Lebanese woman. But the overwhelming feeling against the Palestinians in this country is obvious...so obvious that someone had to scratch this into the boom gate that leads into the UN compound.

It's the first line that's the kicker - where are they supposed to "go home" to??

Birthday Shout-out

It's my dear friend Emma's birthday today...

Happy Birthday Em!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Arnie on Swayze

Patrick Swayze has died of cancer at the young age of 57, which is very sad. I'm not one of those die hard Dirty Dancing fans, but I do love Point Break. I just read an article in which Arnold Schwarzenegger pays tribute to Swayze. I can't help but make fun of the last part of this quote:

"He played a wide range of characters both on stage and in movies and his celebrated performances made the hard work of acting look effortless - which I know from experience is not easy," Schwarzenegger said.

Arnie, making acting look effortless...that's like saying Keanu Reeves has a wide range of facial expressions (but I still love you Keanu!)

And here's Patrick Swayze (and also, the late Chris Farley) in one of his finest pieces of work

New Ash - now with film clip

A while ago I shared with you the "comeback single" of my favourite band Ash, Return of White Rabbit...a bass driven, rocking song. Now comes "True Love 1980", which is the first in their A-Z series. Instead of releasing a new album with the usual 12 or so songs, the band has recorded 26 songs which they will release on a fortnightly basis from October 12. I'm so excited about having 26 new songs over the course of a year, rather than a measly 12 that might take 2 years.

What I love about Ash is their ability to swing between rock and absolute pop. They never reached the heights of Blur or Oasis during the Britpop explosion, but they've continually released albums which covered a broad spectrum of styles...there's an Ash song, no, an album, to suit any mood, any occassion.

Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dancing in the moonlight

I've discovered a time when the streets around my apartment are absolutely silent. This is a wonderful thing to know, as now I can plan when to get the best quality sleep. That time, is 5am on a Sunday morning...that's the time we got home after an incredible night dancing by the sea in Batroun.

One of my colleague's has a Danish friend who's a DJ, who invited us to a party at a beach club. There were four DJs, one from Africa, two from South America, and this Danish guy - the night was full of fabulous Latin and African music. The setting was wonderful - the restaurant/bar is right on the water in a little cove. Yassmin and I shamelessly got the dancing started at around 10pm and slowly but surely, others followed.

At about 2:30am it was time for a swim (having smartly worn our togs) and the water was the perfect temperature...but the wind, which had been blowing a bit of a gale, got me out of the water pretty quickly. It took me a while to notice, but the smell of dirt was heavy in the air, and sure enough, it started to rain. A light spray at first, then big fat drops, and then a steady pour.

While a number of people left with the rain, we continued to dance and it was a wonderful night to socialise with friends from Beirut and meet people from all over the world. We were blistered, our muscles ached, we were among the last to leave. It was definitely one of the best nights I've had in Lebanon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Smug shot

A few weeks ago, news.com.au put out a call for travel photos. Well, not just travel photos, but trick photos of people doing all those cool things like pushing over the leaning tower of Pisa, or holding the Taj Mahal up by a finger etc etc.

So I decided to send in my favourite "smug shot", from Bolivia, and it got published online today...it might just appear in the Escape travel section of the Sunday Mail this weekend.

Happy Birthday Pierre

Hope it's a good one!

Thursday Iftar

When I first got to Bangladesh it was the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and there was a wide variety of iftar, the food people eat to break their fasts, to choose from. Much of this food was only eaten during Ramadan. I haven't found the same thing here, people are supposed to break their fasts with dates, and then the normal mezza like hommus and fatoush, pictured below.

A good size group of people from the office went out this evening to share iftar together, and it was nice to spend time with people outside of the compound.


When I have iftar at home with Yassmin, I don't tend to eat a lot, but tonight I outdid myself. I even tried a dish, that I can't remember the name of now, but it was basically raw mince meat. The colleague I was sitting next to is the head of our health unit, and he assured me that it was safe to eat...and who am I to disobey doctor's orders - it was quite tasty!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This will be me next week

When my Jazzercise DVDs arrive...

PPP explained by McD

I have no idea who it was, or when, but I mentioned the Big Mac Index and whoever the person was, they had no idea what I was talking about.

So here it is, the Big Mac Index explained:

Burgernomics is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, the notion that a dollar should buy the same amount in all countries. Thus in the long run, the exchange rate between two countries should move towards the rate that equalises the prices of an identical basket of goods and services in each country. Our "basket" is a McDonald's Big Mac, which is produced in about 120 countries. The Big Mac PPP is the exchange rate that would mean hamburgers cost the same in America as abroad. Comparing actual exchange rates with PPPs indicates whether a currency is under- or overvalued. Follow the link above to the Economist's site on the BMI...

Bengali Tourism

Someone asked me the other day about tourism in Bangladesh. There are some fantastic sights to be seen, but the tourist infrastructure is pretty weak. There are some good tour guide services opening up, and the new Bradt Travel Guide, which was written by a couple of people I met while I was there, is going to be released next month. It will be good for potential tourists to have a great guide book at their disposal, rather than the outdated and underweight Lonely Planet that we had to manage with.

On top of this, Cox's Bazar is getting a new eco lodge. The Mermaid Eco Resort is opening up soon, and will have a number of small bungalows. Part of the Mermaid family which includes a couple of fantastic restaurants on the beach, this will make a nice getaway for those making the trip down to Cox's. Seriously, the Mermaid Cafe was one of the places to feel like we'd escaped Bangladesh, it had more of a Cambodian beach vibe about it.

There's also a great lodge operated by The Guide Tours in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region which was extremely relaxing and quiet (a rare treat in Bangladesh).

They also do wonderful boat tours of the Sundarbans magrove forest.

In a nutshell, if you're considering an off the beaten track holiday, Bangladesh will definitely fulfill your desire to be somewhere cheap, where the people are friendly, the gutters are smelly and the scenery beautiful (once you get out of the cities). Just pick up a copy of the Bradt guide and learn how to say "bideshi bhara bolben na, deshi bhara bolun" (don't tell me the foreigner fare, tell me the local fare) to all the rickshaw and CNGs wallas that will attempt to rip you off (not that you can blame them for trying!).

Flag for thought

I somehow stumbled across this great advertising for the Sydney International Food Festival, in which flags are displayed by the food the country is famous for. Two examples:

I could really go a meat pie right now...

Can you guess what the above is?
Go and check out the other flags, and test your knowledge of flags (or food)...

Rang De Basanti

Last night's movie night was hugely successful, with not only the screening of an amazing Indian film, but also the cooking of a great curry by our Indian friend.

The movie, Rang De Basanti, was brilliant. It's the story of a British filmmaker, who comes across the diary of her grandfather, who'd served as a jailer in the British Army during the Indian independence movement. Through the dairy, she learns the story of five freedom fighters. She decides to make a film about the revolutionaries, and casts a group of university students. While initially unable to relate to the material, the idealism of revolution becomes more relevant to them, and they gradually realise their own lives are similar to the characters they play, and that the state of affairs that once plagued the revolutionaries continues to torment their generation. (Source: wiki)

It was a very moving and tragic film, and also extremely long (the cover said "over 162 minutes). But if you can track down a copy, I highly recommend it.

The Life of a (stereotypical) Lebanese Man

0-9 - Dress up in camoflague gear and play with your very realistic semi-automatic weapon

10-19 - Set off fire crackers at all times of the day and night

20-29 - Hoon around in your hotted up beamer, slowing down whenever you pass a woman of any age so she can better appreciated your sub-woofers pumping out sappy love songs (like "My Heart Will Go On). If you can't afford a beamer, a scooter or motorbike will suffice, in which case, hoon up and down the road practicing your wheelies

30-39 - Realise that women aren't so different and strange after all, getting married and settle down

40-49 - Become a functioning and contributing member of society

50-59 - Go through a midlife crisis and become a taxi driver where you can yell at everyone, honk your horn excessively, and try to run down the guys on scooters

60- 100 - Become a functioning and contributing member of society

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blogs I'm checking out

There's not a lot going on here right now, I'm feeling pretty good as I should be sending off two reports this afternoon which is even more stress off my back. So, since there's not a whole lot to report, I thought I'd leave you with a few of the blogs I've been reading and enjoying of late:

Transitionland

The Modern Young Lady's Guide to Coups, Contagions & Calamity

Chris Blattman

Tales from the Hood

Roving Bandit

My friend Rich has issued himself the challenge of living on $1 (US$1.25) a day for the next month and has started a blog to track his progress...there have been some teething problems, but you can get in on it now as it's just starting out.

And for a bit of humour, Melinda Forever! - you must read the Ebonoergonomic Keyboard post. Since a lot of my colleagues went and saw Snoop Dogg in concert, there has been a lot of "fo shizzle" talk going on here...

Time for a cool change

The weather broke last night, it even rained at some point. And I woke up this morning to a gloriously cool breeze and a few grey clouds. And even half way through the day, the suffocating heat that I've been living with is nowhere to be found. Just a lovely cool breeze. Relief.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ruins and reconstruction

“We were shocked to learn that the Free Patriotic Movement lawsuit did not insist on only protecting the parts of the camp that might contain ruins, but that it demanded the entire reconstruction stop,” Mr Hemo said. “He wants to keep children homeless to protect some broken pottery? There are far more important Roman ruins all over Lebanon but no one cares about these, only the ones directly beneath our children’s feet.

That's an excerpt from another news article (Roman ruins put Nahr al Bared camp rebuild at risk) about the halting of reconstruction in Nahr el-Bared. And the bold text above is the point I'm struggling with the most - the Roman ruins I've seen in Baalbeck are falling apart, and yet people are allowed to climb all over them. I'm not aware of what ruins they've found on the site of Nahr el-Bared, but surely 20,000 people needing homes takes priority. Maybe the FPM should concentrate on preserving the Roman ruins already out in the public eye...

Sex with Hitler

It's a catchy blog title, but I'm actually not going to speak about the new German advertising campaign of which the tagline is "AIDS is a mass murderer" and the ads show Hitler (and Stalin and Hussein) en flagrante, which is already causing a lot of controversy that I have no expertise to really speak about. It appears that now is the time for controversial ad campaigns, with a lot of attention draw to a recent ad by MSF, "Boy", which many other bloggers analysed and debated about.

What I will show you here, in typical deep and provocative Carly style, is Hitler's reaction to the news that Oasis split up...some people have waaaaaaaaaaay to much time of their hands, but I'm thankful of that, as I really needed 4 minutes to calm myself down after discovering some finance mistakes in the report that I really, really thought was over and done with three times already!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Samoa: the driving force for a new revolution

The Samoans are taking a pretty radical step of changing which side of the road (and car) they drive on. The reason for coming to the light side (that is, the left side of the road), is that there are many Samoans working in Australia and NZ who will now be able to send used cars home to their families.

Apparently 1/3 of the world drives on the left hand side of the road...I think more countries should follow Samoa's lead and start the switch. Apparently Sweden went to the dark side in 1967, and a few African nations in the 1970s. It's time for the world to come back to the light side...if only to make it easier for me to drive in other countries...

Warned up

Our housewarming party on Friday night was a great success, full of good food, good drinks, and good dancing. To get the evening kicked off, we'd decided to regress to college days with tequila shots...well those of us brave enough...

Notice the sour faces...!

It was a pretty laid back evening to start, hanging out on the balcony which every agreed was the largest in Tripoli!

But once the tequila had kicked in, Yassmin and I got the dancing started, and it didn't stop till 3:30am...there was even a one man dance off...

Our house is now suitably warmed!

After getting a decent sleep in, and doing nothing more than watching a few episodes of True Blood during the day, a few of us headed down to Beirut to Bob's for another party, which thankfully ended up being more of a quiet gathering. The differences between Australians, Brits, and Americans (and Norweigans and Danes come to think of it) proved for hilarious fodder (but tell me, is there anything wrong with pronouncing poor, pour and paw the same way?) and even though it was a quiet night, we were still up at 2:30.

Yassmin and I left relatively early this morning to come home, and I cringed when she told me we had to go to another party tonight! Thankfully, it's been cancelled so I can enjoy a lazy G&T on the balcony instead! I've just heard my first thunder since I got here 2 months ago (happy anniversary to me again) and hopefully there'll be some rain to cool things down a bit.